Jim Funicello, a Ballston Spa native, was a three-sport athlete in high school. At St. Lawrence University, he played baseball, football and basketball. Funicello was good enough to be drafted by the Kansas City Athletics but his pro ball career was cut short by an injury.
Funicello returned to Central New York to coach cross country and golf at Lowville High School. A year later, he became the head coach of Lowville’s swim program. In 1966, Liverpool High School started a swim program and then athletic director Luke La Porta named Funicello as coach. Under Funicello, the Warriors became one of the top programs in the state.
For 17 years, Liverpool posted an astounding record of 220-5 and never lost a home meet. Funicello guided the Warriors to 15 Section III titles and had nine different teams become No. 1 in the state. During one stretch, the Warriors won 113 straight meets.
Funicello coached 50 state champions and 21 All-Americans including Don Langenmayr, Mike Lewandowski and Scott Henry. He was named National Swim Coach of the Year in 1979.
Funicello, who also served as Liverpool athletic director, founded the Liverpool Jets Swim Club and the Bayberry Swim Club, two feeder programs that sent many talented athletes to Liverpool High School. Besides coaching swimming, Funicello was the Central Regional Director for the Empire State Games for more than 20 years.
1954-1958: Played three sports at St. Lawrence University
1966: Started swim program at Liverpool High School
1979-1993: Served as Athletic Director at Liverpool High School
1979: Named National Swim Coach of the Year
1980: Received the Blind Men and Criers John Arcaro Award
1980: Inducted into the Liverpool High School Sports Hall of Fame